CASH-ON-DEMAND EPIDURALS: California Woman Sues Hospital
A Pomona, CA, woman who said she was denied epidurals on two occasions by Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center has sued the facility, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports. Wykeita Warren charged in a civil lawsuit filed Jan. 20 that both times she gave birth at the hospital, in March 1995 and September 1996, "a nurse told her she had to pay for the anesthesia in cash because she was a Medi-Cal patient," California's Medicaid program. The hospital denied her offer to pay by credit card or check, and she subsequently delivered on both occasions without pain medication. Warren's attorney Catherine Beatty, who represents women in several lawsuits similar to this one, said, "It's rather outrageous just to go through this to get some pain medication. Unfortunately for a lot of these people, the women's husband had to leave their bedside to get the cash." Early last year, the state Department of Health Services began investigating hospitals and anesthesiologists to determine the prevalence of the practice and found that Pomona Valley had 21 such instances. Hospital spokesperson Kathy Roche said the hospital discontinued the practice of demanding cash for epidurals in fall 1997, when a law was passed banning the practice, and refunds have been subsequently issued to those patients who paid for the medication. Since then, the "hospital's internal review, which was validated by the Department of Health Services on Oct. 2, 1998, showed that no patients were denied pain medication. Specifically, in this case, an epidural," Roche said (Chavira, 2/1). Click here for past coverage of cash-on-demand epidurals.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.